Spanish giant Telefonica has reached swiftly to rebut claims in the local press suggesting it is considering selling its Czech telecoms business to a Chinese investor. By contrast, the operator says that it is spending billions of Czech koruna every year and plans future investments in projects such as the creation of a new multi-million koruna data centre in Central Bohemia, and the forthcoming Long Term Evolution (LTE) spectrum auction. A spokesman for the firm, Hany Farghali, is quoted as saying: ‘We don’t have any plans to sell our Czech or any other operations, it’s just speculation. To the contrary, we are expanding our investments in the Czech Republic and we are continuing to concentrate 100 percent on our European business operations.’
The Madrid-based company’s statement follows reports in the Czech press, including novinky.cz, which cited unnamed sources as saying that it was looking to offload an unspecified number of shares to a Chinese investor. The rumours add further fuel to the fire by claiming that within two years, Telefonica could cede control of the unit to the Chinese and exit the country altogether. The anonymous source told novinky.cz: ‘At present, China Mobile, the world’s largest operator in terms of revenue is being mentioned as serious candidate for preliminary negotiations’, concerning the acquisition of Telefonica O2 Czech Republic. Novinky.cz writes that speculation over a possible change in ownership has been rife at O2 CR for several weeks. The anxiety is being fuelled it says by the ongoing debt crisis in Europe, which many believe spells a rocky road ahead for the telecoms industry.